The Labour party has received an unexpected boost because of the inclusion of Diane Abbott to the Labour Leadership race.
I went to Leicester, my home town, as an observer to witness the BAME Labour leadership hustings meeting. The 300 strong hall at Soar Valley College was packed with many forced to watch in the overspill room.
Taking my four year old son to a 90 minute political debate was probably not the best idea I’ve ever had. His patience lasted about 30 minutes and we left. But two things stood out: First the question about BME representation was answered in a way that makes you wonder why ‘All BME’ short-lists aren’t already on the statute book. David Miliband, Ed Miliband, Andy Burnham and of course long time supporter of this measure Diane Abbott all supported the need for affirmative action. Ed Miliband also suggested that the party undertake an audit, not only of its membership but also its staff.
The second and fascinating occurrence of the day was talking to a number of individuals who told me that they had recently joined the party precisely because Diane Abbot was standing for the leader. A group of four women had joined including a mother and daughter. During another conversation an elderly gentleman told me he had abandoned the party after over the Iraq war but had rejoined to vote for Abbott.
This is purely anecdotal but if this momentum gathers apace then who knows what might happen.
By Simon Woolley
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